I'm a freelance writer and primary school teacher living in SE Melbourne. I love finding adventures for myself, my husband and our four kids to enjoy. Come along! Heart my articles, subscribe to the fun, follow along on www.facebook.com/WNMelbourne
An outdoor waiting area with beachy throw cushions on long benches welcomed us in to the quaint and cosy Parkdale Beach Cafe and Kiosk. Frankly, at 10:15am on a Saturday, I was just happy that the cushions were visible for lack of folks waiting for tables.
We were briefly greeted upon entrance, or I guess you could qualify it as a greeting. I had to take a call from our babysitter and quickly stepped back outside as my husband continued in with the waiter. He was offered, "in or out?" with the flick of a wrist. Husband chose out, and was left to his own devices, told menus would follow. I joined him at the seats he found outside, side-by-side metal framed chairs with hard armrests at a long shared bar-style table facing Port Phillip Bay.
Another waiter approached just as we wondered if menus were, in fact, following; he asked if we were ready to order. Maybe they're used to having a lot of regulars that know what they want to order before they've seen a menu. We asked for menus and ordered flat whites.
Lipstick that was not my own on my cup's edge bothered me a little less than it should have; I wiped it off with my thumb and took a sip. Not quite hot enough, and too foamy and milky to qualify as a flat white. I'd have given this smooth, round, flavourful cuppa a 4.5/5 if I had ordered a latte, but it drops to 3.5/5 for it's lack of strength and excessive foam that I expect for a flat white. Points for the decent price at only $3.50.
With breakfast served from 7am-3pm daily, I was disappointed that the specials board didn't include any breakfast specials. The main menu does offer a fairly broad range of breakfast options, about a dozen choices, ranging from sweet (I definitely would have tried the toasted banana bread with orange blossom marscapone and strawberries if I didn't have to order gluten free) to savoury (the three variations of eggs bene, and all other offerings, included the option of avocado, spinach, or bacon; a lot of avocado for one menu). Fruit toast at $8.50 is outrageous, but the upper end stayed reasonable compared to other beach cafes, topping out at $19.50 for the "Spring Breakfast": poached egg, bacon, tomato, spinach, beetroot, and avocado (there it is again) on toasted ciabatta.
We ordered and enjoyed the view; our food arrived after a reasonable wait. I realised that, though I asked if gluten free toast was available (it was), I had forgotten to specify with my order that I wanted gluten free toast. It was replaced quickly, but I was charged for a side ($3.50). It was my fault, but I feel that a good waiter would have caught the fact that I had asked whether gluten free options were available.
He wasn't too sure what to expect, but wasn't disappointed. 5/5 for presentation. One crispy corn fritter topped salty bacon and smooth slices of avocado with a too-large dollop of sour cream and few shots of rocket; all encircled with a sweet not-too-spicy chilli sauce. He also got to eat my non-gluten-free toast.
What my order lacked in texture, it made up for in flavour;
Crushed avocado with Persian feta served on multigrain toast, add on salmon (total $20.90)
"Crushed avocado with Persian feta served on multigrain toast (gluten free toast available, which I eventually got, I've had worse gf toast before but it wasn't the best I've tried), $13.90 with optional add-ons of crispy bacon ($4) and smoked salmon, which I chose ($7). Fresh dill was a nice surprise.
The tight layout of both the interior and exterior seating areas made it difficult not to notice that kids and canines are more than welcome here. The other clientele were as friendly as they were diverse: a woman in her 60s on the other side of my husband, reading a book on her own; on the other side of me sat two men in their 50s with two small dogs; further down the same bar-style table sat an early-30s couple, enjoying the people watching more than each others' company, and on the way out we saw a family inside with three young boys that seemed to be enjoying their meals, though I hate to think about what their bill came to.
Husband was attended to quickly upon paying for our meal as I perused the wares on a pantry shelf near the door, and we decided that a walk on the beach was in the cards; one of the best parts about a location like this.
Overall, service on first impression was less than what we expected; perhaps the reason there was no line at "brunchtime" on a beautiful Saturday morning, but the food was great, prices competitive, view fantastic, and I'll take curt over cute anyway. I have a few cafes on my list to try, but we'll likely return to the Parkdale Beach Cafe and Kiosk at some point in the near future.
I think this is one of those places where you have to learn the ropes, as it were. Your first experience may not be great because you're not quite sure of everything, but on your second visit you can know what to expect.